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Fredric Mao re-interprets Chinese classical love story with glittering cast for Shanghai Expo (with photos)

Director laureate Mr Fredric Mao has adopted a fresh take on a classic love story to produce "The Liaisons", a cross-boundary music theatre production for Expo 2010 Shanghai China (Shanghai Expo).

Inspired by the classical Cantonese opera "The Legend of the Purple Hairpin", Mr Mao reworked the piece into "The Liaisons", a contemporary romance interwoven with traditional characters.

In search of perfect love, the modern heroine of "The Liaisons" becomes inspired by her counterpart in the legend, Fok Siu-yuk, who selflessly followed a difficult path for her lover Lee Yik. However, in the contemporary version, the modern man cannot resist the temptations of money and power and has an affair with another woman.

"The Liaisons", presented by the Hong Kong Arts Festival and Fredric Mao Theatre Project, will be staged from September 3 to 5 at the Academy Theatre, Shanghai Theatre Academy, as a highlight of the HKSAR cultural programme for Expo. It will be performed in Cantonese with Chinese and English surtitles.

The Hong Kong Arts Festival is a major annual international festival in the region and Hong Kong's leading cultural event, featuring music, theatre, dance, and popular entertainment.

Premiered at the 2010 Hong Kong Arts Festival, "The Liaisons" has won critical acclaim. Commissioned and co-produced by the Hong Kong Arts Festival, "The Liaisons" was also Mr Mao's first production after he left the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre in 2008.

Mr Mao said he spent a year researching and preparing the script as well as searching for creative partners and performers.

"Although the quantity of local drama continues to grow, there is still room for improvement in terms of quality," Mr Mao said.

"I hope there will be more original theatre productions in Hong Kong. That is why I asked script writers Felix Chong and Alan Mak of the blockbuster film 'Infernal Affairs' for help with the story.

"I wanted to try something different with 'The Liaisons' which is why I brought talent from different creative industries together so that they can learn from each other and be inspired to work on a new production."

Mr Mao turned to two artists who could sing and act well to bring out the unwavering faithfulness and devotion that was the theme of the Cantonese opera. Another duo were recruited to communicate the fickle minds of modern day lovers. He found the talent in renowned actors Tse Kwan-ho, Josie Ho, Lam Kam-tong and Amy Wu.

Directed by Mr Mao, "The Liaisons" features a star-studded production team comprising award winning screenwriters Felix Chong and Alan Mak ("Infernal Affairs"), composer Leon Ko and Oscar-winning costume designer Tim Yip ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon").

Programme details and ticketing information are available in the Event Calendar section on Hong Kong's Expo website, www.hkexpo2010.gov.hk.

"The Liaisons"
Date: September 3 to 5, 2010
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Academy Theatre, Shanghai Theatre Academy
Length: Approx 2 hours 15 minutes
Ticket price: RMB 380, 280, 200, 150, 100
Booking hotline: Shanghai East Ticket (86 21) 962388
Online booking: www.ticket2010.com
Programme enquiries:
Hong Kong: (852) 2828 4943
Shanghai: (86 21) 6190 6163
Hong Kong Arts Festival website: www.hk.artsfestival.org